After more than two years away, Pasadena City College’s Robinson Stadium was hopping again this week.
Graduates gathered with their families for PCC’s 97th Commencement Ceremony on Friday evening, that rite of passage by which the college grants associate degrees and certificates of achievement to students who have completed their studies.
This year, PCC will issue 2,909 awards, including almost 2,600 associate degrees. The college will graduate 1,786 students this May.
“Every PCC graduate has had to put in some hard work to reach this goal, but the efforts in this year’s class are truly without comparison,” said Dr. Erika Endrijonas, superintendent/president of Pasadena City College. “These graduates have done the majority of their studies under the shadow of an unprecedented public health emergency, which means they’ve had to make countless adaptations along the way.
“All of us at PCC are in awe at the achievements of these graduates,” she added. “Their presence here tonight is nothing short of inspiring.”
The graduating class is among the most diverse in PCC’s history. Forty-four percent of graduates identify as Latinx, and another 31 percent are of Asian descent. Black students make up three percent of the graduating class. More than three-quarters of the class earned a grade-point average of 3.0 or higher.
The diversity extends beyond our nation’s borders. Thirty-one countries are represented in the graduating class, and 144 graduates are less than 17 years old. The oldest graduate is 74 years of age.
Among the students celebrating their achievements this May are:
• Jasmin Lopez, who will continue her studies at UCLA this fall. Jasmin found her calling as an advocate for justice during her time at PCC, getting involved in student clubs for formerly incarcerated and justice-impacted individuals. “I never really felt the educational system was for me until I came to PCC,” she says. “I didn’t feel like I belonged. PCC gave me that sense of belonging.”
• Makiese Samuel Kala, who will transfer to Cal Poly Pomona to pursue civil engineering. Samuel grew up in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and chose to study at PCC because his sisters came to the college. During the pandemic Samuel would work 3 a.m. to 9 a.m. packing UPS trucks and then begin his online classes. His stays in touch with his parents in Africa via regular video calls.
• Janet Teng, an honors student and chemistry major from Arcadia. Janet’s time at PCC has included awards earned at the Council for Undergraduate Research, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and the UC Irvine Community College Honors Research Conference. Janet will be continuing her studies at a four-year university – she has been accepted to multiple UC campuses and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
• Cynthia Martinez, who started her studies at CSU Los Angeles this spring after completing her PCC coursework in child development in December 2021. A mother of four, Cynthia gave birth to her youngest son the week before finals of her last semester. She remembers having an iPad with her in the hospital room after delivery so she could stay up to date on her studies. Although Cynthia was the first in her family to attend college, her experience has inspired her sister to begin taking classes at PCC.
A video of the ceremony is available online by clicking here.